La Jolla Sea Life’s Old Diver’s Log:
The Weekly Dive Log of “Old Diver” Dennis Burns:
November 17, 2016. Went to the Maldives Islands for Thanksgiving. We stayed at the Kuramathi Resort. We had some really bad vis for the 8 days we were there but had a great time and came away with some macro and slightly wider shots.
October 12, 2016. Drove up to Mammoth for our annual fishing trip. The trees had all turned to their autumn colors and the fishing was excellent as usual.
October 10, 2016. Dived the airplane today. It appears that salvage hunters are pulling large items from the cockpit. Seat belts, seat and many controls are missing. I had thought the winter storms earlier this year were responsible but it appears now that the larger pieces were intentionally removed. Very sad.
No lobsters were present which was also unusual.
September 25, 2016. Getting ready for lobster season Friday at midnight. It was a little slow last year with all the warm water hoping for more and larger bugs this season. Don’t forget your fishing license and lobster log.
September 12, 2016. We made it to Grand Cayman and dived the East End. On the 13th we did Stingray City and today we did the Northeast End. We have had some great visibility and animal action.
September 1, 2016.Workload has stabilized so it is back to the water. Heading to Grand Cayman again for a week. Then our search for military artifacts will continue on our return. Sneaked away for a little fun driving to the desert in my new BMW M2 on Sunday. Blueberry Scones in Julian, house hunting in Borrego, Lunch at Harrah’s Casino and drinks at my friend Scott’s Yacht Club by 6 o’clock. Went up in a sail plane on the way back in Warner Springs. It is amazing what you can do in a day in San Diego County.
July 17, 2016. I have been tied up with my practice for the last six weeks. Brief synopsis: went to Maui again (no diving) have done a lot of metal detecting with some good finds. NO DIVING FOR LAST SIX WEEKS. This has never happened in the past but may persist until work slows down. An announcement that cannot keep however is the B-29 Gary Fabian found with NOAA in Saipan. Please click the photo for the link to NOAA’s site and see the video–read the story.
May 29, 2016. Memorial Day Pirate Party on our dock. Ruth and I were the funkiest pirates and I drank a little too much rum. Yo ho …owww!
May 21, 2016. Seems like I am combining two of my hobbies together again as I have now setup my metal dector for surf detecting. I use a shorty wetsuit and my freediving snorkel gear to detect underwater in the surf. It did not go as badly as I thought for the first time. I did not choke on water and I scanned numerous unusually good signals. I did not retrieve anything as the surf was six feet high and detecting was easier than retrieving. I will try again later this week when the surf goes down a bit. If I actually get something I think I am going to be hooked.
May 15, 2016. Grand kids came down to the boat and “Thumb Balena” went swimming in her mermaid suit. Five years old and can swim with her feet tied together.
May 4-5, 2016. Some really low tides this weekend caused me to get up at 3 a.m. and go metal detecting at Mission Beach and La Jolla Shores. It is spooky at Mission Beach in the early a.m. I ran into a “detectorist” that was there even before me. He gave me some do’s and don’ts about staying alive on the boardwalk at night while looking like a geek with a metal detector. In summary homeless are okay, gang members drunks not so much.
In the future you really will be able t
o put your dive buddy in your check-in luggage. In Marseille, France they recently filmed your new future dive buddy at work…MerBot. But does it look as good as Ruth in a bikini?
Water was flat and calm this weekend but we did boat maintenance instead of diving around scattered rain showers.
May 1. 2016. No diving this weekend but we hit the beach with our Minelab metal detector and found a cute little ring (See above). While hanging out at La Jolla Shores I saw some tech divers carrying large Diver Propulsion Vehicles with harnesses over their shoulders through the 7 foot surf wearing twins tanks. Tough SOB’s or am I getting soft?
We are setting up one of our spare metal detectors to be operated in a prone position with a short handle for detecting underwater in the surf. We have gotten a lot of silver and gold hits in the water right where a drop off exists. I cut my finger pretty badly grabbing for an iron anchor I saw just under the water (stoopid). We will probably just use a snorkel and a hand scoop to dig what we find once we change over. The internet has a lot of videos about gold hunters in the surf using scuba and snorkel gear. When we were in Kona last year we saw several full scuba divers with metal detectors that told us they did quite well off the resort beaches finding jewelry. It bugs me a little that we find these nice pieces of jewelry that I am sure greatly upset whomever lost them. It does not seem that the hardcore beach sweepers give this a thought now a days. Legally if the owner can positively identify the item as theirs “finders keepers” does not apply. We got started with this hobby by trying to find a ring our friend at a dive shop lost with no success. It is probably in another sweepers collection by now.
April 14-18, 2016. Maui wowie for my birthday. We have eight dives booked for four days, all at Molokini Crater off the coast. All dives were fantastic. Vis was great and the animals were prolific and friendly. First dive, two sharks, large moray eels and wantabe supermodel fish. Second dive, turtles, pregnant box fish, cowfish and giant friendly puffer that kept coming to close to shoot with macro. Eel attacking and eating Octopus on video. Large ocean going jellyfish on video. Turtle fly along on video. Best conditions we have ever had in Maui.
Ruth chases shark to 100+ fsw until he decides to come back!
April 10, 2016. Flat seas but very poor visibility at the Skyraider wreck. No pictures due to conditions. Macro photography might have worked but the recent wreck damage would not be apparent. Not much to report though it seems the wreck is now being re-covered with sand. The landing gear tire pictured below is hidden beneath the sand again, etc. Went metal detecting during the minus tide at La Jolla Shores on Sunday and found an old brass locker tag from the Beach and Tennis Club as well as a pass key. I guess that makes us members now sans the $100k dues normally required of new members. We are now definitely one of the walking dead you typically see at the beach swinging our way obliviously down the sand. We like cruising the beach, the exercise and hunting for all the weird stuff people lose. Who woulda thunk that a doctor and a lawyer would take up junk collecting. At least it keeps us from joining a gang.
April 2, 2016. Dived the Skyraider again. Conditions were much like diving a sand storm in the desert. Had to use a reel line to find her again. HEAVY SURGE and poor vis so I had to do a hand over hand survey of the wreck just to stay on site. So many changes and destruction from the surge and previous storms are becoming evident. Lots of new artifacts becoming exposed. Ammo boxes (empty) and other interesting items. Hope to photograph these changes when the site becomes manageable.
Did two hours of scanning at Mission Beach and found four old pennies and the item to the left.
April 1, 2016. Recent contact with Gary Fabian reveals he has assisted NOAA’s Heritage Project with yet another identification, the Conestoga. Gary did some 3D rendering for the team and actually was aboard ship assisting in the expedition.
We dived the Skyraider today in 3′ vis. We found it this time and were in for an unpleasant surprise. The monstrous storms have reeked tremendous damage on the aircraft. The cockpit has completely collapsed and the bulkheads have been torn away. A tremendous amount of sand has been removed and revealed the landing gear and the entire starboard wing. It hardly looks like an airplane from a distance.
March 12, 2016. Bored to death due to ontinuing large surf again so we took our new high end metal detector we just bought to the Mission Beach. We recovered our first gold ring and a small gold plated pin besides the usual corroded coins. Conditions look excellent for this weekend so we hope to dive on our small Whaler “Zig Zag” while “Zero Grams” gets a brand new Yamaha 4 stroke 90 hp installed, whoopee!!
The F-1 during its day held the deep diving record for a submarine of 283′. It sank just a 4.5 miles off of Point Loma and was rediscovered by a DSRV in the 1986. Too deep to dive, it was pretty much intact at that time. It is the grave of the 21 crew that went down with her in 1917. (Below the wrecks listing in the State of California’s Land Assessment Wreck Listing.)
February 20, 2016. New History Channel Series, “Billion Dollar Wreck: Diver Down” premiered a couple of weeks ago. It is about the
controversial salvage of the 1903 oceanliner the “Republic” which sank 50 miles south of Nantucket. I have watched two episodes and find myself more interested in the dive technology than the wreck. Tom Ferris Salvage Master does out take narrative describing mixed gas diving, decompression procedures and other deep diving procedures in a clear and concise way. Not so fascinating as to make me want to become a mixed gas diver (I have purposely avoided it.) I have plenty of simple plain air diving to do.
February 14, 2016. Valentine’s Day. It’s an old story this winter. Eight foot seas and fog make diving unadvisable. Decided to go to “Finest Hours” the Coast Guard rescue movie for some mariner training. Will need it if these storm waves do not stop. The little Coast Gaurd Rescue below, built for 12 passengers, brought back 32 survivors of the oil tanker Pendleton in 1952 in 30′ seas. (Below: Zig Zag waits out fog aboard Reef Madness, Artist’s Conception of Pendleton Rescue and 36′ Coast Guard Rescue Boat used in saving Pendleton survivors.)
February 7. 2016. GOT BACK IN THE WATER TODAY! Water temperature surface 57° and at depth of 50′. Visibility 1-2′. Seas were almost flat. Strong tidal current. Unfortunately it really sucked. We dived the Skyraider for a “get the gear wet dive” of Ruth’s new drysuit. She really likes it. It would appear that custom fitted suits maybe worth it. Missed the plane for the second time in over one hundred dives. Our sonar soundings seem to indicate it has become more exposed but visibility was so bad we bagged it after a short search on the line reel.
Went back over to Coronado to check out the Monte Carlo again with the -1.3 low tide. What a difference one week makes. Low surf revealed wreckage that was more interesting than you might image. Did some metal detecting and ran into the “Treasure Hunters” detector club members on an outing. We are slowly becoming a couple of those strange looking people on the beach waving a bulky contraption. It is good exercise (yeah right) and seems to be helping my still recuperating ankles.
Flat seas are predicted all this week so we hope to revisit the Skyraider to see what’s up next weekend.
January 30, 2016. Went down to Coronado to see the “Monte Carlo” the disappearing casino ship that washed a shore in 1936 and reappears every few years and then disappears beneath the sand. Though we went at low tide extremely high surf stifled any viewing. Local media reported the reappearance on Thursday. Also went over to Ocean Beach and checked out the high surf pounding the pier. Larger surf is predicted for Monday.
I was also was interviewed today on video by West Marine’s southwest regional director. I had been contacted by their representatives last week and provided a list of questions I would be asked on camera about my preferences regarding marine equipment purchases. The interview was to take place on my boat. They paid me for my appearance and told me I was the only interview being conducted in the entire Los Angeles to San Diego region. I guess I spend too much money at West.
January 26, 2016. Took Reef Madness out last night in the dark to scout the only decent sea conditions predicted by NOAA for the week. The sea was not too bad and we did a three mile waste disposal run and came back in. Unfortunately seas are on the rise again for the weekend so I will probably wire my new Kevlar cable data to our towfish and forego diving again. I am very interested in the Skyraider’s condition as a lot of sand has moved onto the beach which means that the plane could be more exposed then ever. I might have to grow a pair and dive no matter how much we get battered.
January 23, 2016. El Ni·ño el ˈnēnyō/noun 1. An irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes affecting the equatorial Pacific region and beyond every few years, characterized by the appearance of unusually warm, nutrient-poor water off northern Peru and Ecuador, typically in late December. 2. Pain in the ASS!!! Have not gone diving in over a month.
January 22, 2016. Chuck Nicklin stopped by for a visit on Wednesday with Roz. He brought me a copy of his new book “Camera Man” and autographed it for me. He is planning a group trip to the Philippines this summer. If you have not done a trip with Chuck you should he is a dynamic, fun and an inspirational diving legend. Everybody talks about Chuck as a diver but he is the nicest guy you will ever meet. Check his website at ChuckNicklin.com for details on his group diving trips and his book.
The sea has come down a bit temporarily and we will run out on Zero G’s to see if we can get a dive in on the Skyraider. I am curious as to what these tremendous storms have done to her. Minus tides and low seas also enhance our chances of finding Jamie’s of House of Scuba’s wedding ring so this afternoon we will try again. It may be a lost cause but we have really learned this beach, honed our detecting skills and as a result hope to translate that into better underwater detecting on our wreck sites.
January 17, 2016. Though we saw six pack boats going out, today’s seas were not for us. Twelve foot waves were predicted. Waves were hitting the bottom of the Ocean Beach Pier and causing the structure to sway. It has been a month since we have been diving and I am getting antsy.
January 9, 2016. Went out in Zero G’s to see the sea heights. Turned back when we were into steady 8′-10′ swells about a quarter mile out off of Mission Beach. Decided to survey the storm damage around La Jolla after taking Ruth to be measured for her new drysuit at San Diego Divers. Twelve foot sets were burying the Casa Cove Sea Wall when we got there. Went over to see the damage done to the La Jolla Shores boat launch ramp which was recently completely renovated. The ramp is now rubble and a sink hole.
Used the minus tide in the afternoon to continue our search for our friend’s lost ring at Casa Cove. All we found was small change, the normal metal bric-a-brac and an unusual homemade ring. Going back tomorrow for more punishment.
January 3, 2016. Got in from Marseille last night. Had to run down to our boats to see how they fared while we were gone.
Took “Zero G’s” out to check the Grey Whale migration for our annual Sunday whale watching trips during January. Spotted a couple at about 100′ of depth and were able to shadow them from about the Yukon to the MB jetty. If you like whale watching we take our larger boat”Reef Madness” out every Sunday in January at 7:30 a.m. sharp. If you would like to come contact us at our email and we will give you further details. (At left view from Reef Madness, on right close up of Mother Whale Nursing Calf.)
Got the OldDiver.com website Ruth bought me for Christmas to forward all traffic to this page until I can create a webpage for the site itself. I plan on doing gear setup videos as I fumble through setting up our new electronic communication, scanning gearing and recording devices. I am assume that they will be humorous as I normally throw away the instruction book upon opening the box.
It was a great year for us diving in 2015.
Though we did not do any of our usual “other side of the world dive trips”, besides publishing our Skyraider find, starting my grandson’s dive training we had great fun expanding our equipment for use in recording and making new discoveries. We are also on the verge of revealing a new discovery on which more research is necessary before going public.
This site has been more popular then we imagined. As you can tell we do not do any form of internet promotion for this site. We are web-spread and word of mouth only. We have become easy to find on Google and our monthly hits range from 800-2000 visitors. Google Analytics tells us 75% of you are repeat viewers. Thank you for not wincing too much at my off-beat humor and manner as I exude my love of diving. Good luck in the new year and give us a mouse button click once in awhile to see what we are up to next year. Dennis Burns and Ruth Yu.
December 28, 2015. We are in Marseille, France the second largest and oldest city in France. It is a port city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. We also visited the coastal town of Cassis a small resort village of the rich and famous. It was beautiful.
We took a boat ride with a bunch of Brits into the Calanques, limestone eddies formed by mining and seawater for the last few hundred years. We also met the “paysan de mer”, whom I will call Honre. He is a sixty-plus sea urchin diver that sells live urchins right off his boat in front of the high end restaurants on the village boardwalk. He gets about 1o euros a piece and the wealthy french love them. I noticed his Inspiration re-breather and, though he spoke no english, sign language and smartphone pictures of our webpage gave him the idea and we were back slapping and laughing in no time. We also visited the dive shop (closed for winter) and checked out the six pack boats.
December 25, 2015. Merry Christmas to all you airheads! (My new name for divers.) Christmas went great with family and friends at our house. My grand kids gave me a T-Shirt that says…”Scuba Diver Grandpas are like other Grandpas…only Cooler.” Out of the mouth of babes I guess. Ruth trumped them all however by purchasing the internet domain name “Old Diver.com” from a domain service, so at least on the internet, I am now officially the Old Diver. I will create a page there, link it to this one and devote it to dive topics unrelated this log or something else I am not quite sure yet. It comes with an email address so I will post the official email address when I work it all out. My “Old Diver says…” page will definitely get moved so I can rant elsewhere.
December 24, 2015. SAN DIEGO DIVERS…THE DIVE SHOP THAT SAVED CHRISTMAS! I am big on Christmas. Though I am not religious it is a great time of year to show people how you appreciate and feel about them by buying them dive gear. Due to a monstrous year end work load and Ruth and I being extremely picky about new dive gear, I could not obtain the “special order” presents I had planned on for Ruth for Christmas. I reluctantly told Ruth our personal Christmas would have to be postponed until January due to press of business and she agreed.
I had tried online and at a local major supply house of scuba diving gear store, that quite frankly told me they could come through and then failed to tell me they had failed until it was too late. The gear was expensive and somewhat specialized diver communications items. Then a friend told he thought San Diego Divers…”the little shop that can” might have one or two of the items in stock. I called and much to my surprise they had every item in stock and even gave me a deep discount just two days before Christmas. Who does that? They also had a couple of rare additional items that I had given up on.
I ordered a new much needed DUI drysuit for Ruth as well and they made up a beautiful custom gift certificate for Ruth while I waited so she would have something official to open. No San Diego dive shop stocks the items I bought off the shelf at San Diego Divers! Thanks guys for saving our Christmas.
December 19, 2015. Though the conditions look perfect for Saturday, Christmas and work duties call. NO DIVING until I get back from France the first week in January.
December 12, 2015. High surf advisories and small craft warnings all weekend. We went to Casa Cove to look for our friends ring again with our metal detector. We found 69¢ in pennies dimes and quarters which we will put toward deisel fuel for Reef Madness. The large surf erased the .7 foot minus tide we had hoped would help us. Even though we have made several attempts we will not be giving up until we have utilized the extremely negative tides that will be present in January.
December 6, 2015. While checking out a new kind of submersible camera called a colonoscope at Kaiser Permanente on Saturday, Old Diver was given a clean bill of health with one exception. It seems Old Diver has a condition
known as…wouldn’t you know it… “Diver-ticulosis!” The doctor would not allow me to operate the camera myself but I did get to view the video in real time ultra-high definition. We do not think we will be putting this piece of equipment in our arsenal as the doctor tells me that we only need it once every ten years.
Fortunately, he found only one small sea anemone that was very healthy and had no nasty cancers or other abnormalities. Did not want to go on this expedition but my dive buddy insisted and it wasn’t so bad after all. Cancers, in this portion of men over 60’s bodies, are one of the most common and easily treated –if caught early. So you might want to consider having this procedure done between dives sometime.* AT RIGHT: “Five Feet of Fun.” The colonoscope. The owner of Ocean Enterprises probably keeps this in stock.
*Old Diver became an instant expert by reading…“Alert Diver” magazine article on diving and cancer by clicking here.
December 5, 2015. Fall/Winter hit or miss weather has prevailed and 8 foot seas are forecast so no diving this week. May scan for our friends lost jewelry again or do boat maintenance. Probably will work on the photos we took on our trip as well.
November 24, 2015. Kona, Hawaii. We are in Puako. I would say more but it is already too hard to find accommodations here. I have been diving this same area for over 30 years. Shore dives drop into a 30′ plus bottom. Turtles, Puffer Fish and large animals from whales to ocean going white tip sharks. Water temperature 81 degrees visibility in shallow was 50 plus.
Did a check out dive on our tropical gear at Mahukona Pier about 25 miles out of Kailua. From the photo on the upper left of Ruth I would say the repairs I had done on my 16-35mm lens was worth it. Only six more days left.
On the plane ride over we met the amazing Jonathan! We noticed another passengers DUI bag carry on and talked to him about diving Kona. Conversation led to our Skyraider find and before we could tell him we had discovered it he went on and on about it all being a fraud. His friends and he had dived the plane dozens of times and that the entire dive community knew where it was located. I told him we had found the wreck and researched thoroughly the fact that it had not been discovered since the crash. We have encountered this before and one question from us always tells the tale. “So, Jonathan where precisely is the wreck?”
Later that week Jonathan showed up 1 1/2 hours late for an advanced long range dive boat trip and the other divers on the boat were quite angry about the delay. Though the water temperature was 81 degrees Jonathan wore a full on DUI drysuit that looked very over-sized. Later in the trip, in a mixed sex crowd including a 13 year old girl, Jonathan fore went the dive boats head and urinated off the back of the boat, where divers were still boarding after their dive, by unzipping his drysuit and contorting himself enough to do what he had to do. Karma sucks sometimes Jonathan, but thank you Jonathan for inspiring me to create my new page on this site…“Old Diver Sez!” (See above.) I do not know precisely what the page will be about in the future, but its first topic is an, I hope, humorous look at dive buddies.
November 22, 2015. Ocean has been flat so we did a quick run to Ingrahm Street Bridge. Vis was great and dozens of small bugs. Had to do one more cold water dive before our trip to Hawaii
November 14, 2015. Ran out to GF-5 today in choppy water caused by a strong early morning wind. We dived in zero foot visibility and had to abort. We had strong numbers and sonar hits at the site but no vis. We used the extra time to search the beach again for our friends lost ring. No ring but we found a diamond and gold watch…darn. Tweaking our gear and reviewing our recorded scans from today as weather report says 8′ seas tomorrow with rain.
November 11, 2015. Veteran’s Day Holiday. If you read our In Memoriam Page on this website you know how we feel about veterans past and present. Their level of commitment, especially measured against current standards of loyalty and duty, are to be admired and honored.
On this day I am meeting Jaime, owner of a local dive shop, at South Casa Cove to attempt to find a family heirloom he lost in the surf there about two weeks ago. We are not your practiced beachcombers. Our metal detecting and digging is usually confined to our wreck sites underwater. But with the right information there is a better than even chance we can find the ring he lost using the tide charts and the general location to assist us. It may take a few attempts but we are optimistic.
November 9, 2015. We have been asked by an Orange County dive group to give a presentation about our Skyraider find focusing on do’s and don’ts for novices like us after you actually make a discovery. I started an article about this very subject a few months ago that I have not finished. We had some enlightening experiences as we stumbled through identification, protection and publication of our find that I hope even experienced divers might find useful.
November 8, 2015. Dived the Skyraider and the Tower today. The visibility was at least 30′ at both spots. The airplane was buried deeper than the last time we were there. The Tower was beautiful. Really scoured the area for lobsters and found nothing but shorts. There were a few legals in the traps around the Tower but even the traps had only a couple bugs in them. Did some scanning for fun and recorded Tower sonar JPEGS. All of our boats and gear are up and running so let’s hope the weather holds so we can have more fun next week.
The 150′ kevlar cable for our towfish comes in Monday so hopefully I can rig it by next weekend and get some subsurface reads on our site of interest. My D8oo Nikon that I use for underwater photos comes back from the shop tomorrow. I had it tuned to my 16-35mm wide angle lense for our trip to the Big Island over Thanksgiving. I like to freedive and take available light photos with this combo. It is great for the sea turtles in Hawaii.
November 7, 2015. Tried the better conditions today on GF-12. Conditions were good not great. We dropped down right on the numbers. Within feet of the coordinates was a large pile of chain and a six foot wide stockless anchor. It was as large as our last one and simply enormous. We are on the trail of hopefully a new significant find and these anchors could be clues. There are several other hits in the area but it is unclear as to what significance they may have.
November 1, 2015. Took a long boat ride to a “can’t see your hand in front of your rface” dive. There was a small window of flat water I could not resist Sunday and though the seas were flat, wide tide swings and large surf all week doomed us from the start. On the upside our repairs to Zero Grams were successful and I got in the water for the first time since dislocating my ankles. Ankles were a little sore but I could flutter kick around pretty well. The new sonar hits we have looked so good we took a chance on conditions but literally had zero vis. Made for a short dive but an early breakfast at “Day Break Island Grill” in Ocean Beach, they are a Hawaiian themed cafe just off West Point Loma Blvd. They serve amazing banana pancakes and eggs benedict…Oh yeah and Bloody Marys too!
October 24, 2015. Best laid plans of mice and men… No diving this weekend! Seas were up and visibility was zero in our chosen spot. Back to the boat to do detail work on the Inverter install job and tweak out our dive boats for next week. Really need to get back in the water, maybe next week.
October 18, 2015. Seas were high this weekend so we finalized the replacement of a new Xantrex 3000 watt inverter in Reef Madness, our much smaller unit gave out last week. Dive lesson #3 for Taylor was all we did in the water. I gave him the swim test called for by PADI and he kidded me that it was too easy and did extra laps–watch that overconfidence. We then did mask and snorkel work in the pool at the Hyatt where we slip. We put a weight belt on him for these exercises and at one point he said, in surprise, “The weight belt really helps.” I told him the weight belt is his friend. His donning, doffing and retrieval donning went great. I was impressed that when he had any trouble with straps or the snorkel that he fixed them without surfacing. We practiced setting up tanks and regulators and went through the nomenclature and purpose of each piece of equipment. He seemed to get it all and did great with the mechanical aspects of setup. Much to his chagrin I made him watch a Sea Hunt episode and quizzed him on what was fact and what was fiction as to Mike Nelson’s diving practices. He is not coming down next weekend due to a weekend trip he is going on with his dad. We will dive GF-12 in his absence.
October 17, 2015. Gary Fabian emailed me with videos and photos of the discovery made by NOAA on the expedition in which he served as sonar expert. They found a steamship just off San Francisco Bay which was intact and submerged for over 95 years. Gary has been consulted several times in the past by NOAA as his reading and rendering of sonar images is truly remarkable. The locations he has provided to me have always been hits, many of which are depicted below, with other more significant finds to follow. Click here to go to NOAA page with the full story on the discovery and one of Gary’s renderings.
October 11, 2015. My grandson came down again for his Sunday morning dive lesson #2. We completed his gear up and got him in the water. He did very well. He got the Cressi freediving zipperless wetsuit on a lot quicker this week. His booties, gloves, fins and mask all worked out well and he did a textbook giant stride off of our dock. We bought him the new Henderson Boots with a ridge sole and zipper keeper Velcro in case we do some shore diving. We are still working on the proper weight for his weight belt. Absolutely no complaints about anything from him. Next week we do the cove for a little more interesting scenery and maybe some weight belt work. Go slow so they become a Pro!
That’s one giant Step for Taylor…
October 10, 2015. No diving today large seas and mending ankles kept us at the dock. We worked on “Doobie” our 6′ Zodiac. It’s BRAND NEW Mercury 3.5 hp motor has given us nothing but trouble since we bought it eight weeks ago. It cuts out without warning constantly and will not restart. We took it to Dinghy Doctor, who are authorized Merc dealers, for a warranty repair and got charged $56 for nothing. They said they started it and it ran for 15 minutes and so it was okay. I had advised them it might run for hours but would suddenly quit and not restart even though it still had gas. The next day it would start up and do it all over again. No more Dinghy Doctor for me.
October 4, 2015. My 15 year old grandson came down for his first dive lesson (gear up) session on Sunday. Though unlicensed to do so I have taught a dozen or so friends and family to dive over the last few decades. I take my time and teach them in the old school manner. After their standard check out dives I dive with them at least six times or more as my dive buddy before I consider them ready to be certified. I then send them to a certified instructor for open water certification. So far the divers I have trained have continued to dive throughout their lives, including Ruth who could barely swim when I met her 15 years ago. Risky I know, but I believe many people are rushed through their training and become disillusioned with the initial rigors of scuba diving. My inductees go at their own pace, no pressure at all and, if they need four pool sessions before they are okay with getting their hair wet, that is fine with me. I trust my grandson will be no exception.
He is interested in underwater photography and he seems to know his way around a DSLR. I intend to focus heavily on freediving with him and at the same time improve my own dissipating abilities in that area.
October 3, 2015. No diving today due to dislocated ankle and torn ligament in right and left ankles. Old divers need to be careful when they step into their dive boat. Could not miss LOBSTER SEASON opening though so we took our two hoop nets over to a spot I noticed on the BIRD and free dived a few months ago. I saw a lot of shorts at that time but thought it still looked good. The spot was in Mission Bay very near our boat so not too rough on my injuries. We set the hoops after dark just next to my scan numbers and left the traps for exactly one hour with some salmon heads as bait. I am a lousy hoop netter (no patience). We pulled the traps and had four keepers, two were very good size. We kept them alive in the baitwell on MADNESS and barbequed them the next day for dinner Puerto Nuevo style with rice and beans. Ruth’s dad (visiting from Taiwan) almost O.D’d on two of the tails, something I thought I would never see, he loves lobster.
September 27, 2015. After diving the new project target sites three different times we came up blank. Not even trash. This made us suspect a problem with our GPS and sonar coordinates. Usually we nail every sonar hit we see. We lost confidence in our system so we decided to start from scratch and scanned GF-19 and GF-12. Sites provided by our friend Gary. We got strong structural hits on both sites. Today we dove GF-19 only after carefully transferring the GPS coordinates to our nav gear. On site we went strictly by the numbers but verified we also saw structure on the sonar.
We set our anchor within five feet of a 10′ high by 7′ square steel box. It had a few holes in it and was hollow. It looked like a Borg cube. Extremely large chain was attached to it. The material the steel links were forged from were larger than my forearms. The massive chain traveled twenty five feet to a 10,000 lb USN Stockless Anchor. I determined the weight and type by measuring it and using a chart for these types of anchors I found on the internet.
Ruth may have trouble pulling this on to the Boston Whaler.
My old Coast Guard captain, dive buddy, told me the “cube” is a “buoy sinker” used by the Navy to hold the position of enormous steel buoys on the seafloor. He says the cube is bolted to a concrete foundation and lowered into the sea. An anchor is attached to insure the foundation does not shift around with wave and tidal action. He said that the buoys were enormous as large as a small vessel. I would guess so with a 10,000 lb anchor attached to a sinker that was 10′ high by 7′ square and made of 1/2 inch steel. I believe we have seen sonar hits of the buoy itself nearby. We are told that the Navy often sank the buoys rather than remove them when they were done with them. We have seen evidence of this in adjacent sites of interest.
Borg were not home but we did see some lobsters.
The visibiliy and wildlife have been nothing but fantastic. Abalone, Moray Eels, Lobster all in the same hole. Thirty-five foot plus visibility. Shot some macros with my new SeaCam flash units but I am very rusty and my results were inconsistent. Ran into an old dive buddy from 2o years ago on the mooring next to mine. Surface conditions have been summerish and pleasant. We are supposed to leave on Monday but weather may force us out sooner. Thunderstorms, rain, wind and larger seas all predicted on Monday the day we were to leave.
As you can see above the visibility was phenomenal all week.
September 7, 2015. Took the the day off from diving today to attempt to hone in our GPS numbers from the recordings we took on Saturday. It is such a long and miserable ride to our new site that being skunked again is not an option. It is an old story but we find that the more obsessing we do over precisely determining where to dive while at the dock leads to actual results on the bottom. Interestingly, while dockside we were again visited by our friendly dock master, Joe with a job for us. He asked as to sonar survey under all of the slips in our marina for junk and obstructions that he had heard from various hull cleaners were present under the docks. He offered a month’s free rent for O.G. and we took it. Funny but this simple job was just what we needed to tune-in the sonar hits and GPS real time cursor locations. We were able to actually stand on the dock with a handheld GPS and locate junk from the sonar scans, thanks Joe.
September 5, 2015. Went to our new discovery site and got skunked. We had GPS readings from our towfish scans. These scans are normally off by a few feet. But this time we could not pick up hard pings from our hull based transducers of any targets. We dove a weak hit and found nothing even after lining the anchor and running 50 foot spirals out to 150′. We took new scans and found some objects and will dive them on Monday. When we got back to the dock we found a mermaid waiting for us. My 5 year old grandaughter was modeling the present she asked us for on her birthday and wanted to go on a boat ride. What is a grandfather to do? Could we be carrying this la jolla sealife thing a bit too far? Happy Birthday, Ryan!
August 30, 2015. Attempted to check out the next Gary Fabian location but found nothing home. Granted we had no hard wired transducers on the boat and dove only by GPS numbers, something we do not usually do. We had no choice since our hull maintenance guy tore out our transducer wires while cleaning the bottom of our boat. The vis was abysmal and we used a line to navigate but saw nothing after an hour boat ride in rising swells. We took our sonar tow fish with us and we decided to deploy it and do some preliminary mapping of a new location of interest despite the swell. We found some very exciting hits that confirmed a suspicion we had about what we might find in the area. As a result future log entries found here may be more cryptic over the next few weeks. We believe we have found items of significant interest and until they are identified and confirmed we will be guarded in the information we report.
Thirty-four more days until bug season! Lobsters, the best reason to dive in poor visibility.
August 23, 2015. While getting ready to take a long boat ride to dive the next Fabian site we got a telephone call from our dock master. One of the marina tenants called Joe to find out if I would come assist him at sea. He had wrapped 200 feet of anchor chain around the Ingraham Street rubble while fishing and could not free his 55′ sport fisher. Ruth and I decided we would put some money in the Karma bank and agreed to help. We found them easily enough and his 45 lb Bruce anchor and heavy duty chain were inter twined about as good as you could get it. While Ruth circled in our Whaler, “Zero G’s” I dove and worked hard to free the chain and anchor. It took two dives as the rubble was very craggy. The vis was so good Ruth and I came back to do an afternoon dive on the same spot. We forgot how beautiful Ingraham Street is on a good day. I took my camera and shot some available light wide angles just for fun. We also found some fishing gear including a very expensive rod and reel that was heavily encrusted to add to my “Garbage Diver” museum. Karma works!
August 22, 2015. Dove UFFO alternate sonar hit and found large mushroom shaped metal object. Visibility was very good this weekend and early morning seas very calm. We have decided to hit each of our 22 Gary Fabian sites at least once each to determine their priority. Diving each individual site multiple times is less efficient. If we find something which is obviously an identifiable craft while doing this we may alter the plan. Second dive today! Surveyed the A-1. It is very over grown with kelp and not looking much like an aircraft, so good hunting you guys who are still looking for it.
August 9, 2015. Went back to UFFO again today. Very calm seas even better than yesterday but the vis was still terrible. We re-connected with the twin scuba tank setup and sent it to the surface with a lift bag and a Pelican buoy.They were a bitch to get in the boat but fortunately I have a very strong 98 lb. girl friend. We found manufacturers labels on the tanks and they turned out to be part of a $15k “Subsalve” military ordinance lifting device. They are supposed to stay connected to the lifting device but something must have went wrong. They are an interesting clue to the wreckage’s identity in that obviously some great expense was spent on salvaging a portion of what remains.
I HIGHLY ADVISE AGAINST GRABBING A SET OF SCUBA TANKS LEFT UNDER WATER AND MOVING THEM IN THE SLIGHTEST DUE TO EXTREME RISK OF EXPLOSION AND DEATH OR PERSONAL INJURY!
August 8, 2015. Dove the UFFO again today after a long hiatus. We nailed the spot and the surface conditions were excellent. Vis was terrible. We have never had better that 5 feet of visibility at this spot. We scouted around and found very few new pieces of the puzzle. A hot sonar hit of larger wreckage about 80 feet away will be our next dive. Off to San Francisco on Thursday through Sunday may ab dive at Bodega Bay if the surf is down.
July 31. 2015. Dove the Tower with a new friend from our dock, “Harold” a retired Scripps marine biologist and Department of Fisheries employee and his daughter. Visibility was fair to poor but we needed the distraction after some tedious boat repairs. Hope to re-dive the new UFFO again this weekend if the swell is right. Purchased new sonar software from Reef Master and it really makes a difference.
July 24, 2015. Watched two episodes of Discovery Channel’s, “Treasure Quest” seems pretty lame, though I love to watch other divers search techniques. They were using the same model Hummingbird Sonar that I own to search and found a galleon on the first day. Wow how lucky. They ran cable from their larger mother ship to a small inflatable with the transducer mounted to it and a crew member operated it behind the mother ship. I will not be copying this technique.
July 23, 2015. Moved from Avalon to Two Harbors after my son and his family arrived. My very young grandchildren ages 4 to 13 are great free divers (snorkelers), even the little ones. We saw over twenty abalone in one spot on the surface of rocks in water less than 7 feet deep. I was able to have them dive down to a hole with a very large lobster in it and sharpen their spotting skills. The visibility was as good as I have seen in Catalina for the entire time that we were there.
July 21, 2015. Took a trip on our boat “Reef Madness” to Catalina. Had to use scuba gear to remove a nylon rope from the props in Avalon. Rope had melted pretty good. It took an hour to remove it with a chisel. Fortunately no damage to the shaft or prop.
July 3, 2015. Went to the new airplane site. We had found a set of twin 120 cu. ft. scuba tanks in the muck near by with a strange air distribution manifold. Vis was very poor. We lost each other in the first 3 minutes at 100′ it was so bad. Found no additional wreckage which sounder shows is very near. Will try again next weekend. Read the new book by Robert Kurson, “Pirate Hunters.” John Chatterton really is as big a dick as he was on “Deep Sea Detectives.” Enlightened me as to the fact that the Dominican Republic may need some new gun control regulation. Spoiler Alert! Nobody diving with Chatterton dies during the search for the wreck of the Golden Fleece.
July 2, 2015. Boat maintenance this weekend. Hey, somebodies gotta do it. Went to the boat show at Shelter Island and fell in love with a 70′ Hatteras. Maybe Ruth should get a second job?
June 14, 2015. Water was flat this weekend but not very clear so we opted for some towfish scans around known targets to dial our dual sonars in. Got really great scans of known wrecks in the area and felt allot more comfortable launching and retrieving the fish. Though it is easier to use our hull mounted transducers, the benefits of the fish are strikingly apparent. We are getting very little distortion from wave action and larger images of bottom targets due to the greater depth of the towfish. We are now ready to use it on our new discovery (the UFFO clip above) and start the identification process next weekend.
June 6, 2015. Dove the NOSC Tower, a special project of mine for the last three years, this weekend. I have pulled every bit of information available on the net and other sources about the Tower over the years that I could find. We have discovered many interesting appurtenant structures–large permanent tripods, mooring poles, large encased power conduit, experiment platforms etc. I even have original plans and a hardcover copy of a book published about its capabilities in the sixties. I have reviewed Scripps and the Naval Electronic Warfare archives, read the papers on the experiments conducted there during its day and even interviewed former tower personnel. I had planned to do an extensive online map of these discoveries until I found the Skyraider. No room here to expand further but most people would probably be startled by the ground breaking research done there less than a mile off Mission Beach in the 1960’s. If you have any special knowledge regarding the Tower please contact me.
NOSC Tower on an exceptionally clear day.
May 31, 2015. Made a dive using numbers from our new friend Steve Lawson. It was an interesting spot shallower than what we normally dive for Steve. The vis was still crappy as we expected but Steve’s numbers are always pretty good dive sites even if they do not contain man made objects. Steve has made some interesting discoveries in San Diego of late. I am sure he will publish his own accounts once he goes through the process of identification and authentication of his finds. We are happy to help out Steve and Gary Fabian with potential hits from the scans they use, if for nothing else, eliminating iffy potential wreck sites.
May 30, 2015. Finally got back in the water this weekend. Went to the plane site which we have not been on for two months. It had changed dramatically with all the wave action this winter. The starboard wing was almost completely covered by sand. The cannons were still exposed but the wing structure was reburied. The engine has about an inch of sand covering the cylinders and hoses to each. A large piece of fully intact aluminum bulkhead materialized in the fuselage that I had never seen before. It was just lying in the back of the plane on the surface of the sand as if it had blown in from some other location. The vis sucked and the water was 50 degrees at depth.
May 21, 2015. Unfortunately no diving due to conditions again this weekend. While hanging around in the Hyatt’s “Swim” bar this weekend I ran into another diver from our dock. He introduced himself and told me he had seen our media coverage and was excited about our find. He enthusiastically told me he would love to dive the site but completely agreed that it should be kept secret for as long as possible. He told me that he has dove on most all the wrecks in San Diego and has witnessed first hand over the years their pillaging. He, like others we have spoken to, specifically referred to the P-38 site, just north of us in Del Mar which, even at greater depth, has been decimated by looting. I soften on the issue of secrecy occasionally but appreciated the positive reinforcement. I will try not to feel so guilty in the future about keeping the site a secret.
May 14, 2015. Being a weekend warrior has its drawbacks. It looks like the swell will be up again this weekend as well. If at all possible it might be a good weekend to check in on our favorite dive site to see what the high surf has uncovered. If it gets worse than predicted it may be just as well to do some new towfish scans instead. I would bet we dive though just to remind ourselves again why we don’t dive bad conditions in the first place. Practiced clearing our ffm in the pool at the Hyatt. I told the tourists I was the pool maintenance guy recovering a body. Glad I followed OTS’ instructions to practice in a swimming pool before diving it. The mask is like having a small aquarium over your face and takes a lot of air to clear, plus you have to strictly follow the procedures they recommend or you get no air. Liked the ffm but it was a strange experience after 45 years of low volume face masks. Seemed to correct my old guy vision due to the large distance between your eyes and the faceplate coupled with the diffraction from the water.
May 8, 2015. High surf advisories and a late season storm makes diving doubtful this weekend. So it is time to review in detail the sonar recordings taken from the towfish last week and watch some more “Sea Hunt” episodes on DVD. (no kidding). Had additional contact from the Navy regarding the Skyraider and a telephone call from an avid diver that works in one of the navies electronic research programs curious about the site. Really starting to “Jones” (look it up milleniums) over the lack of diving in San Diego over the last 2 weeks.
May 2, 2015. Second test of towfish conducted this weekend over the Skyraider for comparison with our original transducer scans of last year. Significant difference in the images. The towfish may be a very useful tool after all and we only almost lost it and me overboard once. Delayed the training dives with our new full face mask due to fun we had with the towfish. Received additional new site coordinates to scan from our wreck hunter buddy Steve but will probably not get to it this weekend.
April 26, 2015. Small craft advisories were out on Saturday so we tested the towfish today behind “Og” using the linked Humminbird Sonars. We were pleased with the way the “fish” tracked behind the boat, deployed in general and the link between the sonar units. We still need to set up a winch for retrieval since the deployed weight with wiring and lines is about 50 pounds…I don’t want to lose Ruth over the side! Received word from other hunters of a Coast Guard airplane they found off Point Loma and new scans of a possible P-38 they have been tracking for sometime. Good luck you guys! They also passed along some coordinates for us to check out closer to us. Hope to scan and/or dive this weekend.
April 24, 2015. Got back from Maui where we tested a new camera setup and enjoyed some great visibility. While we were gone our new full face mask from OTS arrived and we rigged it for testing this weekend. We also relaunched “O g.” our Boston Whaler dive boat after mounting dual Humminbird Sonars with heading sensor GPS and dual transducer capabilities for our new towfish. Spring is always a good time to gear up for better diving conditions in the months to come. Unfavorable conditions have not allowed us to dive the newly discovered UFFO for over a month now. We look forward to getting back to the site for more scans or dives.
April 12, 2015. Finished rigging of Towfish will experiment using it on wrecksite when we come back from diving in Maui on April 21st.
March 23, 2015. Contacted by Naval History and Heritage Command Unit of the U.S. Navy who requested we provide specific coordinates of the wreckage and any photographic evidence we possess on the site. Navy commended us on our efforts in keeping the sites exact location from the public.
March 20, 2015. We have added “The Tank” by First Response Outfitters, a sonar towfish to our arsenal of tools used to locate and identify wrecks. The Birds we own talk to the Tank which we tow behind our boats as it relays more detailed images of potential wreck sites for evaluation prior to diving. Setup and rigging will take a few days which is good time spent on what looks to be poor diving conditions this weekend according to NOAA.
March 14, 2015. Using scans we performed with our Humminbird 1199 hd si side scan sonar and co-ordinates provided by our associate we discovered more wreckage of what appears to by a UFFO (Unidentified Formerly Flying Object). This is a larger wreck and in deep less hospitable water. Seen below the metal structure depicted is the smallest of the sonar targets strewn around the wreck site. As more information is gathered it will be reported here.
March 9, 2015. The Diver Alert Network’s, Alert Diver article “Hidden in Plane Sight,” written by Ruth and I, is published.
February 16, 2015. Interviewed for Scuba Diver magazine article about the A1 Skyraider discovery.
February 14, 2015. Since our discovery, with the assistance of Gary Fabian of UB88 fame, we have begun to explore other areas and have already made some interesting discoveries that soon may be added to these pages. Stay tuned…
February 12, 2015. Local news media from CBS, ABC and Fox News interview Ruth and I for evening newscasts. CNN calls and requests permission to use our videos worldwide.
October 4, 2014. Positive identification of the wreckage is made by using the Bureau of Aeronautics identification plate to obtain naval records detailing the crash.
June 11, 2014. While re-diving a previous sonar target we discover shifting sands have revealed the remains of a Korean Era warplane.
June 1, 1971-June 10, 2014. Dove everywhere else in the world that I could get to by train, plane, boat, raft or car.
Old Diver Recommendations:
I have been emailed from divers all over the world that are planning on diving in San Diego about my preferences regarding local wreck dives, dive charters, shore dives, dive shops and even restaurants and accommodations. Here are my recommendations and warnings about diving in San Diego in no particular order. THESE OPINIONS ARE MY OWN PERSONAL OPINIONS BASED ON 45 YEARS OF PATRONIZING DIVE RELATED BUSINESSES IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY. DIVE OPERATIONS ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN AND SHOULD BE SUPPORTED BY DIVERS. IT TAKES A LOT OF DISAPPOINTMENT AND HEARTACHE FOR ME TO STOP USING ANY ONE PARTICULAR ENTERPRISE (PUN INTENDED) AS SUCH THEY SHOULD CARRY NO WEIGHT WITH ANYONE AT ALL AND NOT BE RELIED UPON. (THANK YOU SOUTH PARK!)
NO MATTER HOW TEMPTING OR CONVENIENT, DO NOT PATRONIZE OCEAN ENTERPRISES!!! They are the Evil Corp of San Diego diving. Do not be fooled by their single large location and seeming vast inventory. Though they “talk the talk,” from ownership on down they are sub-standard as a service-oriented business.
HOUSE OF SCUBA: Excellent and has worldwide online shopping and a warehouse on site that does not quit.
SAN DIEGO DIVERS: Excellent ownership, staff and inventory. It is worth a visit just to see the re-breathers they display.
I.B. DIVERS: Old school dive shop that has been around forever they have the equipment and the know how.
SPORT CHALET: A chain store, sporting goods store, that got its start in the dive industry and ski gear years ago and won’t give up their roots to main stream sports. They have an indoor swimming pool with view windows that you can watch others learn to dive through. Many locations in Southern California.
LA JOLLA COVE: You gotta do the Cove! I did my first dive there with my brother 52 years ago when I was nine years old. The entry is a dream. The beach is world famous. The vis is usually the best in San Diego and the sealife has been preserved by the State. Best beginner snorkel and scuba spot on the planet–no exaggeration!
LA JOLLA SHORES: If you learned to dive in San Diego you have already dived this area on one of your beach dives. I have never liked it because I am too lazy to drag my gear down the beach. Once in the water swim through small surf and keep going until you are staring into an endless drop off deeper than the Abyss turn around and come back. Yeah you did it.
SCRIPPS CANYON: The Deep should have been filmed here because, well, it’s deep. Two earthquake fault lines meet at a starting depth of 135.’ If you miss the descent spot just over the intersection your bottom time will be up before you see anything. Very dangerous without proper planning. When it is diveable the vis can be 100′ and you might meet anything that lives in the sea at depth. Some divers shore dive this spot from Black’s Beach…good luck with that!
San Clemente Island: All of the larger cattle boats go there and anchor
up on the same old places due to boat size and mixed level divers. So make best friends with anyone who owns a boat over 30′ long and do a three day weekend or more. The diving there is like going back in time to the 1960’s with enormous schools of fish, Steve Irwin Rays, lobsters and the endangered abalone. Watch out for the Navy firing at your ship though by checking their website for open dates before going.
The Tower: I admit this is a personal obsession of mine. O.D. has been diving it since before it blew over in a storm 25 years ago. A lot of Dr. Frankenstein electronics and biological scientists did some world changing science at this lab before it tumbled into the sea. See our video above on this site it says it all.
Dive Boats: If you own three dive boats of your own who do you dive with on a local six pack…the “Lois Ann.” Randy its owner is all diver and drives the boat on Sundays…usually. “The Marissa” is no slouch either. I also hear good things about “Waterhorse Charters.”
Don’t Be Like this Diver and Wait Too Long to Do Your Estate Plan!!!!
Call the Law Offices of Dennis D. Burns Dennis Burns Law.com (Click on link to go to Website)
My dive buddy Ruth and I have coined a phrase after diving dozens of targets found over the years using our Humminbird Side Scanning Sounders– “The ‘Bird’ is the Word!” The “Bird,” as we affectionately call our Humminbird sonar, reveals with reliability we trust, definitive targets of opportunity to dive and explore. Our targets are not always something as exciting as a vintage aircraft but we are never disappointed by a false signal recorded by our birds. Compact but powerful, Humminbird Sounders are on all three of our boats from our 13′ Boston Whaler to our 45′ sportfisher”Reef Madness.” We discovered the Skyraider aircraft with our smaller unit aboard “Zig Zag,”our tiny Boston Whaler, using a modest 700 Series Humminbird. We then stepped up to a Humminbird 1199 Series with a 10” screen to make over 70 dives on the site with pinpoint accuracy provided by the unit’s GPS and bottom reading capabilities. Accuracy was essential to avoid setting our anchor on top of the wreck and harming the aircraft’s remains. A Humminbird side scanning sonar with GPS positioning was the only tool we needed to make the discovery documented on the pages of this website. Whenever anyone asks us “How did you find this wreck site so many have overlooked?” Our reply is always the same…“A little ‘Bird’ told us!”